Meek Mill Championships

Meek Mill Championships
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This year, Meek Mill, who has brought us through his dreams and nightmares on past releases, went through a personal transformation that has lead him to recently becoming a public advocate for criminal justice reform. With a year filled with high highs and low lows, Meek Mill has a lot to celebrate: a release from prison; a rekindled friendship with Drake; and, of course, his latest album Chamionships.
 
At 19 tracks, the album comes packed with features from the likes of 21 Savage, Ella Mai, Drake and Future, as well tributes to classic New York song samples — "Intro" mimics Nas's "One Mic" while "Respect the Game" mirrors JAY-Z's "Dear Presidents."
 
Mill flips Notorious B.I.G.'s "What's Beef" for "What's Free," which features a soul-baring, powerful verse about black economic liberation and ownership from JAY-Z, subsequently sending him into the shadows of the veteran rapper. Viral New York rapper Melii also provides a fiery standout verse on "Wit the Shits (W.T.S.)," a call-and-response song about romantic relationships, while Cardi fleshes out the sex-adorned "On Me" flawlessly.
 
But it's Mill's dedication to speak of his experiences that push beyond the surface to present an emotionally, physically and mentally liberated artist — even if it means speaking on the pain behind it.
 
"And in the 13th Amendment, it don't say that we kings / They say we legally slaves if we go to the bing," he raps passionately on "Trauma."
 
"You gotta tell 'em put them guns and them percs down / Them new jails got ten yards in 'em and that's your first down," he says sorrowful on "Championships."
 
"16 more years of probation, you know you gon' get some more time on me, huh," he explains on "Oodles o'Noodles Babies."
 
As much as Championships is filled with nonchalant club/street anthems, it's also about healing. Tempered by both celebration and struggle, Championships shows the duality of Mill's world — one that still reflects on the past, but has made leaps towards his future — and that's perhaps the greatest win of them all. (Maybach Music Group/Atlantic)